The City of Beardstown has given permission for the next phase of dredging to begin for the marina. The current phase of the project involves dredging under the railroad bridge to the navigation channel. The estimated cost of this phase is $200,000.
Chair of the Beardstown Harbor Committee Kelly Cagle says a local employer helped to fund the next phase in the project as well as several other vital portions to the upcoming marina: “JBS gave us $310,000. $60,000 of it went to start a new dive team for equipment and training. The other was for dredging and the work on our permit, so if it wouldn’t have been for JBS, we would not be as far as we are. In doing that, we are taking $50,000 working towards our permit, and the other $160,000 we are going to do our dredging – considered to be part 2 of our phase, which comes from the point of the marina to the cut that was put through the rock dike. Now, what we will start doing is raising money for and looking for funds for Phase 3.”
Cagle says that the State of Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Beardstown TIF District, and safety grants awarded through the State of Illinois with the help from 93rd District Norine Hammond and 47th District State Senator Jil Tracy along with the generous donations from JBS have helped continue to see the marina through to the finish line.
Cagle says that the safety grants are vitally important to the marina because Beardstown is one of the only major cities located directly on the Illinois River that does not have direct river access. Cagle says that the OSLAD grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is already attracting attention from within the area: “We used [the grant] to pretty much clean up the area, put in restrooms and 7 camp sites, an ADA-compliant fishing dock and pier, a little shelter, and a playground. It’s going to be a really nice campground. We already have people calling wanting to rent it, and it’s not even done.”
Behind the scenes, Cagle says that updated paperwork and an economic impact study by the Army Corps of Engineers is to be completed soon to help the marina become eligible for more grants. According to the Cass County Star Gazette, this has not been done since 2004.
Cagle says the Beardstown City Works Department and City Public Works Director Gary Hamilton have helped make the marina start to become a reality with many hours of work: “Without our Public Works Department and all of the hard work that they have done down at the marina, this would not be possible. Gary and the crew have kicked it in, and they have worked really hard to bring this to Beardstown, so I hope people enjoy it. [On Thursday,] we had a pretty neat call since we are as far along as we are. We had someone call wanting to know what it would cost to keep a house boat [in the marina] year round, so that made me feel pretty positive.”
Private donations for the project are still being accepted. You can contact Cagle for more information on how to donate at 217-248-9354 for more information.